A deadly budget

Sorry, GOP, but you can’t call yourself pro-life while letting children go to bed hungry.

If the powers that be in the Republican Party want people to die, then they got it right with this budget.

Cut Meals on Wheels and stop feeding hungry children.

Get rid of the arts, cut funds for medical research, zero-out PBS and slash funds for education.

And while we talk about how Americans have equal opportunities, let’s cut assistance for college students and then we can call them lazy when they can’t go to college and minimum wage is still less than half of what people need to pay their bills.

Oh, and let’s not help poor people in cold climates to heat their homes. So what if they starve? It’s their own fault for living in a cold place. They should move to Florida or Texas or something.

While we’re at it, let’s slash after-school programs so families that are struggling to get by on minimum wage have no safe place for their children while they work. And then when their children get in trouble, we can say their parents are to blame for neglecting them.

Well, maybe they shouldn’t have children if they can’t afford it, right? Then, why are we closing women’s health clinics? That’s the only place many low-income women have to get reliable contraception. But then, these clowns don’t think women should have access to contraception. Or abortion. We are, after all, pro-life, aren’t we?

Oh, and let’s cut programs that offer nutrition to pregnant and nursing mothers. If the kids don’t get good nutrition for brain development, then they won’t need college anyway.

And we can get rid of programs that help people with their rent in emergencies — you know, if the car breaks down or someone gets sick.

And speaking of getting sick, the GOP plan for health non-care is breathtakingly cruel. It seems intended to kill poor people.

But, hey, let’s fund war. Lots and lots of money in this budget for more war, and for a wall we don’t need, since Mexicans aren’t coming here in great numbers anymore.

I have a question for people who call themselves Christian or pro-life: How can you reconcile your support for these lethal policies that target the poor with surgical precision?

Have you read the red print in the Bible? That’s the stuff Jesus says — and in case you’ve forgotten, Jesus Christ is the person Christians are supposed to be following.

I wish the Pope himself would write to Paul Ryan and tell him his policies are deeply, grossly immoral.

I don’t think anyone can make the occupant of the White House a more moral person. I think he believes his only concern should be with the wealthy and powerful. I think he’s just too cruel, willfully ignorant and immoral to change his ways.

But the Republicans are skipping merrily along, allowing him to wreak havoc across the country and around the world.

This is evil on a massive scale. We must resist. We must persist. And we must find a way to enlist Republicans in the cause. This is not about party; this is about morality. This is about fighting the greatest evil the world has seen since Hitler and Stalin. We can’t afford to lose.


There are no limits to violence in entertainment

The US Supreme Court has decided that there are no limits to the violence in video games for children. A 6-year-old can walk into a store and buy the most gruesome, bloody game on the shelf.

The decision was based on First Amendment free speech rights, but other types of obscene materials, such as sexually explicit content, animal cruelty and child pornography are off-limits. Children can’t walk into an X-rated movie, so why should they be able to play a game where they can behead someone and watch the blood spurt?

California’s law was vague, unfortunately, but states are allowed to regulate sexually explicit material, so why not excessive violence?

I’m a strong proponent of the First Amendment, but children need to be protected from violence as much as they need to be protected from porn.

Studies have shown that children become enured to violence when they see too much of it, and some video games are incredibly graphic and realistic.

Maybe I’m dreaming up a conspiracy where there isn’t one here, but the games are a great way to train children to serve in our endless wars.Violence is a game to them, so you don’t need a draft to get young people to fight wars for the profit of Halliburton and the like. The video game insustry itself is a $10 billion a year business. And the US Army has a video war game, “Americva’s Army,” that kids can play on the Web (http://www.americasarmy.com/aa3.php.)

According to the Washington Post and CBS News, the game is doing its job; people are playing and then lining up at recruitment centers to play the real thing after being conditioned online.

So, if California’s law is too vague, it’s up to state legislatures to write something less vague.

Some would say it’s up to parents to monitor what games their children can play and what movies they can see. Violent games and movies were forbidden in my house, but my boys had friends whose parents let them play the games or rented violent movies for them. There was a way to get around my prohibitions. I did model a disapproval of violence, but that’s not the strongest weapon when society says violence is fun.

If we ever want to get to a time of peace, we need to limit children’s access to violence. If we can keep the3m from these violent games, then real violence will shock them, and they’re less likely to line up willingly to be cannon fodder for the benefit of huge corporations.


What does it look like to you?

My team's vision of a community where people help each other and there's enough for everyone.

I was at an anti-poverty summit today, sponsored by Children First/Communities in Schools of Buncombe County.

The activities centered around how we could eliminate poverty in a county where nearly one in four children lives below the national poverty level, an income of $22,050 for a family of four. In reality, it takes double that to be able to make ends meet here.

Parents struggle with unsafe housing, low wages, few good food choices, little or no health care for themselves, inadequate child care and a social services system that’s confusing, seemingly uncaring and traps them in poverty.

We told each other stories of families we knew — or our own families, and talked about what we might be able to do to change those stories.

We started with ideas: a home visit by a nurse to every new parent, plus a guide to parenting resources; community centers where people could go for help and rise to become volunteers and community leaders themselves; child-care cooperatives at the community college and in the community that would offer parents training in child care and age-appropriate toys and materials to promote optimal early brain development; community gardens, or trucks that sell fresh fruits and vegetables that travel to neighborhood that have no grocery stores or farm stands; access to safe recreation; help navigating the social services system; programs with rules that are flexible enough to accommodate different families and cultures, and of course, access to quality health care for children and their parents.

There were a couple hundred ideas posted on the walls before we were done.

We talked about the “benefits cliff” that removes assistance before people are ready. For example, someone who works overtime and makes a few extra dollars just winds up having to pay it in housing because the rent is tied to income, or taking away child care subsidies as soon as a mother finds work. People can’t get ahead; they feel trapped.

We were asked to illustrate our vision of what the county could look like in five years if our solutions were implemented — but we also had to talk about how they might be implemented. Who would work together to get a visiting nurse into the home of every new parent? Who would be responsible for putting together a parenting resource guide? Who would operate the community resource centers in our dream community?

At the end of the day, we were asked to write a statement of our vision. This is my group’s statement:

“We share the value of strong families and recognize the interdependence of our community. We choose to be bold and build innovative and efficient resource networks that nurture a holistic, healthy, sustainable and abundant life for all.”

It will take bold action to fix our communities and clean up the mess left by corporate greed, but we can do it, one community at a time.

Tomorrow, summit participants will talk about how we do it here.

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